Sunday, July 15, 2012

Visit to San Francisco

I went to San Francisco at the end of May with my mom. She went for a conference on Latin America, so I had most mornings and afternoons free. And what did I do, given hours upon hours to explore San Francisco? Explore the city's comics culture, of course. 

On the first day I went to the Cartoon Art Museum. The museum isn't large, but a surprisingly large quantity and range of exhibits was packed in without feeling cluttered. The Avenger's exhibit, featuring art spanning from Jack Kirby (1960) to Frank Cho (2007), was surprisingly enjoyable, although I usually disregard superhero comics. Maybe the hokey 60's dialogue featured in a Hulk/ Iron Man fight  caught my attention: "Get out of the way you rust-pot before I peel that armor off you like a tin can." 

"La Raza Comica," an exhibit featuring Latino-American experience in comic art, is apparently one of the first large-scale shows in the country to showcase the contributions of Latino artists in comics. Spain Rodriguez, Grasiela Rodriguez, Mario Hernandez, Lalo Alcatraz, and Isis Rodriguez each displayed original art or pages from their comics. There always exists the danger that exhibits with ethnic orientation will end up focusing on kitschy aspects of culture to make it more recognizable to the general public. In this regard, the Cartoon Art Museum's choice of work was a relief. The exhibit showcased political cartoons, superheroes, and anecdotal comics.

The poster for the exhibit

By Lalo Alcaraz
By Jaime Crespo
The museum also managed to pack in a Mad Magazine retrospective with original covers, pages from Jeffrey Brown's new book "Darth Vader and Son," and a history of comic art from 1750 to the present. 

On my second day in San Francisco, I walked to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood to check out  Comix Experience. I asked the clerk for a recommendation, something written by someone in San Francisco, and he suggested Julia Wertz's Fart Party, a hilarious autobiographical comic. 

I have a few friends from college living in the Bay Area and I met up with Sophia (pictured below). Her boyfriend Neil has an amazing comics collection and works at Kayo Books. Kayo specializes in vintage smut and sci-fi.